Make Working From Home Better with These Tips
by Sarah Thomas
Working from home is kind of a thing right now.
Even before the world was ruled by a virus, working from home has steadily been gaining traction. Based on a 2019 study conducted by Flexjobs, there’s been a 91% growth in remote work over the last 10 years.
That’s because there are definitely some benefits.
Use your own bathroom, save money on gas, keep mileage low on your vehicle, save the planet by reducing emissions, eat all of the leftovers, let the dog out during the day, get the laundry in the dryer before it starts to smell funky, and grab deliveries off the front porch when they arrive. What’s not to love about this arrangement?
There is no one right way to work from home. Some people think you should get dressed like you are going to your office each day. I say this is your golden opportunity to wear your cozy cords, your favorite sweats, or no pants at all if that’s your thing. Do what works for you.
Have a Zoom meeting? Business on the top, party on the bottom. It’s the twenty-first century version of a mullet. Embrace the tech mullet.
Here are some friendly tips to get you started, from someone who’s learned a lot from co-workers and her own virtual workplace routine.
How to make your work from home experience a success:
Establish a pre-work routine:
If your routine consists of waking up and grabbing your laptop, you might want to think about adding a bit to that. Establishing a routine, even a small one, lets your mind and body know it is time to get to work.
Do something as simple as exercise or stretch, shower with a high-quality natural soap, apply Lume Deodorant, get dressed, grab a cup of coffee or whip up a good breakfast, make sure your coaster is placed exactly how you like it, and–what I find most important–start at the same time every day.
Even though my husband and I both work from home, I always give him a kiss and tell him to have a good day. Then it really seems like I am headed off to work.
Changing your clothes as a part of your morning routine can be an important part of mentally dedicating your time to work. Whether you change from your nighttime pajamas to your daytime pajamas, or you dress to impress (it’s okay to impress yourself!), just the act of doing it will help you change gears.
Will you ever wear shoes again? You decide.
Keep a consistent schedule.
You will feel the most balanced between home and work life if you try to work the same hours every day, and family members will know better what to expect and how to respect your work life if you keep a consistent schedule. You can even track the time you spend on each project throughout your work day if it helps you stay more productive.
That said, flexibility is one of the advantages of working remotely, so be open to little adjustments to accommodate appointments and collaborating with team members in different time zones.
Choose A Dedicated “Office” Space
You don’t have to have an actual office, but it helps if you have a spot dedicated to work.
My husband likes an official office space where he can close the door and leave at the end of the day. I like working out in the open. Either way, we both work in the same spot daily, and leave it when the day is done.
Don’t Sit All Day
Stand up, stretch your legs, take a dance party break, walk the dog. Every time I walk through a doorway, I stretch my arms out and lean into the doorway, pulling my shoulders back for a good stretch.
Doctor Breanna Tivy at Thrive Chiropractic gives this advice, “For every 30 minutes of sitting, you want to get up and move for about two minutes”. Here’s a video of stretches she demonstrates that will help you avoid problems with your neck, back, and hips.
You can even try using a standing desk for part of your day, which helps your back–and even your mood and energy level.
Give Your Eyes A Break
Staring at a computer screen all day long can cause eye strain, headaches, neck and back problems, and dry eyes.
To help prevent eye strain, use the 20/20/20 exercise: Every 20 minutes, take a 20 second break from the monitor or your device, and let your eyes focus on something that is 20 feet away.
And don’t forget to blink!
Take Care of Yourself Socially
Make sure you connect with other humans! Figure out what the virtual water cooler can be for you and your co-workers - Slack, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, or some other form of communication that isn’t all business all the time. You can even show up to business meetings a bit early for a little chit chat. It is important to get to know the people you work with even if you don’t see them in person.
Under normal pre-COVID circumstances, it’s a great idea to meet up with friends for lunch occasionally, work from Starbucks for an hour, and make plans for after work and weekends to socialize. You can still work in some social distance hangout time with friends outside of work and even have a virtual lunch or coffee talk during your work day. Switch it up and see what works best for you. Even introverts need social interaction, and your emotional health is an important part of your general wellbeing.
Eat Mindfully - Practice Refrigerator Distancing
If you have ever found yourself standing with the refrigerator door open, eating shredded cheese out of a bag and wondering how you got there, welcome to mindless snacking.
Think ahead about how you can stay hydrated and eat healthy foods, and try to limit wandering into the kitchen or pantry when it isn’t meal time. You’ll feel a whole lot better about yourself and have more energy when you eat in response to hunger, not when you are looking for a distraction.
This means something so different for everyone.
Are you distracted by news notifications or social media updates? Turn off notifications or programs if it helps, or limit yourself to checking a couple of times each day on your 15-minute breaks.
Does music help you get things done, or is it noise clutter? Maybe a classical music station makes for more productive background noise than a death metal station.
Do you really need to take that Facebook quiz to find out what percent bossy you are based on your name, or can that wait until evening?
Figure out what distracts you, and limit those things to brief periods a couple of times each day.
Establish Some Ground Rules With The Good People In Your Space
If there are family members home with you, you’ll want to agree on some rules to avoid frustrations with interruptions.
It might take some time for family members and friends to get used to the idea that you are working, not just hanging out at home. I always plan a 15-minute break when my kids get home from school so I can hear about their day and make plans for the evening. They know when we finish catching up that I need space again for a couple of hours before calling it a day.
Each of our circumstances are different, but communicating and committing to a routine are key.
Be Aware of Video And Audio Settings For Virtual Meetings
I’m not going to lie, I flossed my teeth during a team meeting today. One of my fellow Lume employees confessed that she spilled a bag of cracker crumbs on her lap and cleaned it up with a hand vacuum during her first video team meeting. It’s your home, take advantage of the fact that you may be able to stand and stretch (or floss your teeth) during a meeting. Just be sure to temporarily turn off video or mute audio when what you are doing could be a distraction.
Of course, if your name does get called out, you’ll also want to make sure you can respond with something that relates to the discussion! Be attentive, respectful, and engaged, but enjoy the flexibility that comes with being in your own space.
Quit Working At The End Of The Day
Close your laptop, leave the office behind, and wait until the next work day to respond to requests after hours.
Create a routine just as you would to begin the day. Change your clothes, walk the dog, walk away from your work, and resist the temptation to dabble in work for the evening. You are in your home, and the more you do to separate yourself from work in the evening, the more refreshed you will be the next morning.
A Salute To Those Of You With Children At Home
“New normal” might be the official phrase of 2020. If you have kids who require homeschooling or distance learning because of quarantine restrictions like me, you have a new normal.
The whole family under one roof, working, going to school, playing–it is a lot to juggle. Kids also need attention, love, and assurance–now more than ever. So hats off to all of you, doing your best to get through an unprecedented time of togetherness in our lifetime.
Some things to keep in mind:
- Adjust expectations.
- Give yourself some grace.
- Establish a schedule that works best for your kids, too. For example, take a break every 60 minutes to connect, meet needs, and decide what the next hour will entail. Check-in frequency will also depend on how old your kids are.
- Stick with the school day schedule they are familiar with. If you have flexibility in your work hours, start a little early so you can call it a day by three or four when the kids are getting antsy and ready for more attention.
- Give your kids responsibilities–they are used to having jobs in their classrooms. Put them in charge of something.
- If you are in a household with more than one adult, take turns addressing the kids’ needs so one parent doesn't feel the weight more than the other.
- Plan ahead and set aside snacks you’ll feel good about kids grabbing when they are hungry.
- Give yourself some more grace. We are ALL learning and experiencing things through this difficult time that are contributing to our kids’ education than classrooms and textbooks cannot provide.
Quarantine: Has there ever been a better time to introduce your “co-workers” to Lume?
If you were already working from home before COVID-19, you were probably used to some quiet time during the day while the kids were in school.
That all changed when quarantine measures actually increased the number of “coworkers” in your business space all day, every day.
With all of this togetherness, you may want to call an office-wide (read: family-wide) meeting on personal hygiene in the workplace. (Did you know you and your office mates can use Lume Deodorant to turn stinky feet into cute feet?)
We really are all in this together.
Even if you don’t have kids around, are working with someone else in your house now, or are the only person in “the office,” a little Lume Love is just the ticket for keeping your workplace fresh and spirits higher.
Lume Deodorant for Underarms and Private Parts is different from other deodorants because it tackles the source of odor and paralyzes odor-causing bacteria. Lume is not a cover-up or a neutralizer, it actually prevents odor from happening in the first place. And you can use it ANYWHERE to reign in external odor.
Lume is a skin-safe deodorant that's clinically- proven to control odor for up to 72 hours. That’s three days, folks!
If you really want to make it easy on yourself, use Lume Deodorant Wipes anywhere you need a quick refresher throughout your day. By using Lume Deodorant with Lume Deodorant Wipes, you really ensure your shower goes a long way.
Odor is optional with Lume, so you can check that off your list of concerns and feel more confident as you blaze through your workday.
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